New York Knicks forward Jared Jeffries, right, battles for the...

New York Knicks forward Jared Jeffries, right, battles for the ball against Washington Wizards guard Nick Young during the first half of an NBA basketball game. (Jan. 30, 2010) Credit: AP

CLEVELAND - Jared Jeffries completed a buyout agreement with the Houston Rockets on Friday, Newsday has learned, and though he has received interest from a few teams, his preference, according to a source, is to return to the Knicks.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the Knicks plan to sign the versatile 6-11 forward once he clears waivers Monday, which is highly likely because of his $6.6-million salary. Jeffries, 29, is expected to meet the team in Orlando in time to play in Tuesday night's game against the Magic.

The Knicks, who have 15 players on their roster, will have to waive a player to make room for Jeffries.

Jeffries played sparingly with the Rockets this season, seeing only 137 minutes of action in 18 games. The Knicks, who are looking to add size to the team, view the addition of Jeffries as a boost to their defense.

The issue with Jeffries always has been on the offensive end, but his ability to defend all five positions on the floor, including proven success against top point guards such as Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose, makes him valuable off the bench.

Mike D'Antoni said the Knicks "always have interest in Jared'' and added it's "because he plays defense. We're looking to add more defense and things of that sort, so he fits that bill.''

D'Antoni always had high praise for Jeffries, who was playing his best basketball before he was traded before last season's deadline along with Jordan Hill and the 2012 first-round pick for Tracy McGrady in a deal motivated by the clearing of more salary-cap space.

In 52 games for the Knicks last season, Jeffries averaged 5.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 28.1 minutes per game, shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from three-point range.

He had been a major disappointment as one of Isiah Thomas' free-agent signings - a five-year, $30-million deal for the full mid-level exception in August 2006. It wasn't until last season that Jeffries started making a notable impact.

D'Antoni hated to see him go, but the move wiped $9 million - including Jeffries' $6.6 million - off the Knicks' cap, which allowed them the opportunity to offer two maximum contracts. They were able to use the space for only one, Amar'e Stoudemire, but it allowed them to have the room to sign Raymond Felton, who was dealt to the Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony-Chauncey Billups trade.

The Knicks are expected to continue to search the waiver wire for more reinforcements, especially in an effort to add height. According to sources, the team has its eye on Troy Murphy, who is believed to be leaning toward championship-caliber teams such as the Celtics or Heat before considering the Knicks, and Joel Przybilla, who reportedly might work a buyout with the Bobcats.

A fallback option is likely to be 7-foot free-agent Earl Barron, who played seven games at the end of last season with the Knicks and averaged 11.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Leon Powe, just released by the Cavaliers, also is a possibility.

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